Social Media and Politics Are Killing America

One thing that has always puzzled me is how people who are obviously intelligent in most things will believe utter crap, will defend their belief in utter crap and refuse to consider any other viewpoint.

And that is truer than ever in the current environment where social media seems to rule over all common sense.

Even before social media came along, the slide of politics into character assassination and demagoguery was evident. I don’t know if it’s politicians feeding the social media machines, or social media feeding the politicians, but it’s gotten worse, and fast.

I have said for years that an inherent flaw in our “two party system” is that it discourages any idea of middle ground or compromise. Our political system mimics sports, there are two teams and you must pick sides, you’re either for me or against me. And because people feel like they must choose sides, they will go to ridiculous lengths to support their choice, to the point of ignoring anything that contradicts their point of view and disparaging anyone who disagrees with them.

And the various social media just exacerbate that drive to divisiveness.

One attribute shared by politicians and social media is that most of what you hear or read is not true, and it’s difficult to figure out who or what to believe.

When I was in the US Army 40 years ago, we still used single side band short wave radios and Morse code. Part of the training involved listening to and transcribing code when the frequency was being jammed. You had to really focus to be able to pick out the tiny signal of the Morse code from the noise of jamming. That’s what the current social media environment reminds me of; there’s a tiny, quiet sliver of truth out there, but you must wade through overwhelming noise to find it.

It is my observation that most people, when challenged, get defensive and try to shout you down, rather than consider the possibility that they are mistaken. And then go on to demean anyone who disagrees with them. What is most disheartening is when I find myself responding in kind.

I’m tired of that. I’m tired of people demanding that you choose sides, and yelling that you are an idiot and evil if you don’t choose their side. No one has a monopoly on the truth, no one has a monopoly on what’s best for the country, or the state, or the city, or the neighborhood. And just because you can find someone on the internet that supports your position doesn’t mean they are right, either.

I’m tired of people making excuses for politicians lying, saying, “That’s just what they have to do to get elected.” I’m tired of political candidates demonizing their opponents, because “that’s what works, that’s how you get elected.”

If getting elected is your primary goal, then I do not want you to represent me.

If being right is more important to you than finding the truth, or finding common ground, then I’m really not inclined to interact with you.